KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Alex Bowman captured a fourth-place finish in the NASCAR Cup Series second playoff race at Kansas Speedway.
During the race, the Tucson, Arizona, native led a season-high 107 laps during the 400-mile main event and was the fastest car in the field for the majority of stage two. Despite not getting the victory, Bowman remained positive about the state of his team down the road.
“We’re performing at a level where any day can be our day,” said Bowman. “This is what the 48 team is all about. It’s that time of year.”
William Byron also led 9 laps en route to a sixth-place finish. The day earned the Charlotte, North Carolina, native valuable points in his run for the championship.
“We made a really good rally,” said Byron. “We just got our car so much better through the middle part of the race and then towards the end it was just hard to know what to make better.”
Kyle Larson earned a top-10 finish as well, bringing the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 home in the eighth position. Despite starting 22nd, regular season championship Chase Elliott stormed into the top-10 early in the race, ultimately finishing in the 11th spot.
Bubba Wallace would come away with the victory in the second playoff race.
Headed into Bristol Motor Speedway next weekend, the bottom four playoff drivers will be eliminated from championship contention. Currently, all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers sit above the cutline. Byron (+48), Bowman (+30), Elliott (+28), and Larson (+27) all head into the Tennessee short track looking to keep their championship hopes alive.
The third race of the Cup Series playoffs at Bristol will take place at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on USA Network, PRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).
Alex Bowman, No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Stage one: Grabbing his best starting position since February’s Daytona 500, Bowman started the race in the third position. After the green flag dropped, he quickly made his way to the front of the field, taking the lead of the race on lap three. The 29-year-old driver held the point until the competition caution flew on lap 25. Following pit stops, the Tucson, Arizona, native came out in the runner-up slot, choosing the inside lane for the ensuing restart. Once the race returned to green flag conditions, Bowman challenged race leader Tyler Reddick for the lead before the caution flag flew once again on lap 35 with the No. 48 Ally Racing team in the second spot. Following the yellow flag, the intensity of the race calmed down with Bowman running steadily in the third position for most of the run. On lap 67, race leader Tyler Reddick cut down a left rear tire, bringing out the caution and promoting Bowman to the runner-up position before pit stops. Following the caution flag, the majority of the field came to pit road with crew chief Greg Ives calling for two tires to gain track position. After exiting, Bowman and competitor Chase Briscoe nearly collided following the No. 48 Ally Racing team’s pit service. Despite neither driver hitting one another, the issue sent Bowman back five positions. Following the restart, the Ally Racing team fell down the order, crossing the line in the 17th position.
Stage two: On the ensuing restart, Bowman utilized the speed of his No. 48 Ally Racing Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and drove up into the 12th position when the caution flag flew on lap 91 for an incident on the back straightway. The following restart saw Bowman’s path to the front kick into high gear as he quickly moved into the seventh position. On lap 111, the sixth caution of the day came out with Bowman still in the seventh spot. The 29-year-old driver radioed his team under caution saying, “it (the car) is really good, we’re just stuck”. After making their pit stops, the Ally Racing team gained three spots on pit road, followed by a celebratory radio message from crew chief Greg Ives and spotter Kevin Hamlin on the speed of the pit crew. On the ensuing restart, the field ran a quarter of a lap under green before an incident brought out another caution. Bowman remained in the runner-up position despite the chaos further down the field. Lap 120’s restart saw Bowman take the lead away from Byron and pull away from the field by a nearly a second. Following another caution flag on lap 139, the Ally Racing team completed their service in 9.8 seconds, giving their driver plenty of time to maintain the lead out of the pits. Lap 143’s restart saw the race calm down enough to finish the stage under the green flag. Across the line, it was Bowman who took the stage victory.
Stage three: Following the start of stage three, the race experienced a long green flag run, allowing Bowman to pull away by nearly a second and a half over his competition. On lap 200, Bowman slid back into the runner-up position after being passed. He came to pit road on lap 217 and rejoined the race in the fifth position after green flag stops were completed. Despite losing track position, Hamlin reassured his driver that his lap times were competitive as he looked to track down the leaders. As the checkered flag took to the sky, Bowman and the Ally Racing team came home in the fourth position.
William Byron, No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Stage one: Byron rolled off the grid in the ninth position but struggled with the balance of his race car at the beginning of the event. The 24-year-old driver radioed his crew with the message of, “really tight” on lap two as he lost several positions shortly after the beginning of the race. Byron would cross the line in 14th when the scheduled competition caution came out on lap 25. Following the restart, Byron navigated the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 through traffic until the caution flew again on lap 33. Following the changes on pit road, Byron reported to his crew that the adjustments were helpful and fixed tight conditions that hurt their speed in the first run. Following the quick yellow flag period, the race settled down with Byron moving up through the field. Despite fading in the later portion of the run, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native ran in the 14th position when the caution came out for race leader Tyler Reddick cutting a left rear tire on lap 67. After the restart, Byron finished stage one in the 12th position. During the caution period, Byron radioed his crew saying that he was happy with the balance of his race car.
Stage two: In the pits prior to the beginning of stage two, the No. 24 pit crew managed to gain their driver four positions with a lighting fast pit stop. Byron was able to capitalize on the free track position, driving all the way up to fourth before the caution came back out on lap 91. The ensuing green flag run saw Byron continue his march to the front of the field, jumping up to the fourth position shortly after racing action resumed. By the time the seventh caution flag flew on lap 111, Byron was still running in the fifth position. After another fantastic pit stop and a penalty from the No. 18 of Kyle Busch, Byron took the lead of the race with teammate Bowman in second. The resumption to racing saw the teammates battle for a quarter of a lap before an incident further down the field brought out the race’s seventh caution flag. Lap 120’s restart saw the Charlotte, North Carolina, native lose the lead to his teammate but maintain enough pace to run in the third position. Following the race’s eighth caution on lap 139, Byron’s pit crew once again came up with their third blistering fast pit stop of the race. The stop of 9.6 seconds was fast enough to regain the runner-up position on the racetrack. When the race restarted on lap 139, Byron competed with Bowman before eventually crossing the line in the third spot to finish stage two and collect much needed stage points.
Stage three: Even with some aggressive driving throughout the field, the caution flag did not come out following the beginning of stage three. Under green, Byron ran inside the top-five, battling teammate Larson hard for the third position over the course of several laps. Byron hit pit road on lap 214, one of the earlier cars to do so. Following the service, he came out in the fourth position once the field cycled through pit stops. With 30 laps to go, spotter Brandon Lines radioed his driver with the message of, “Go as hard as you can”, encouraging his driver to push to the end of the race. As the race came to a close, Byron finished the 400-mile event in the sixth position.
Kyle Larson, No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Stage one: Larson took the green flag in the seventh position and stayed around the top-10 until the competition caution flew on lap 25. Despite crossing the line in the eight position, crew chief Cliff Daniels radioed his driver informing him that on lap 24, Larson was one of the fastest on the track. Following pit stops and the choose rule, Larson navigated his way through traffic until the caution took to the sky once again on lap 35. The ensuing restart saw a return to calm racing with Larson running inside the top-15 for the majority of the run before race leader Tyler Reddick cut down a left rear tire, bringing out the third caution flag of the day. Following an intense battle on the racetrack with under 15 laps to go in stage one, Larson took the green checkered flag in the 13th spot.
Stage two: Following Larson’s pit stop, Daniels came over the radio with an encouraging message to his driver, reminding him that the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 did in fact have the speed to contend at the front of the field. On the ensuing restart, Larson was running in the 13th position when the caution flag came back out on lap 91. On the following restart, Larson led his team inside the top-10 occupying the rearview mirror of Elliott. By lap 111, yet another caution flag took to the sky with Larson in the eighth position. After pit stops and the choose rule, Larson lined up in the 10th spot. The following restart saw the field make a quarter of a lap under the green flag before an accident directly in Larson’s mirror brought out the event’s seventh caution. Under the yellow flag, Daniel’s radioed both his driver and spotter Tyler Monn instructions for Larson to employ more aggressive side drafting on restarts to avoid losing positions. Lap 120’s restart was nothing if not exciting. Shortly after the green flag returned to the sky, Larson ran three-wide with his competition for the better part of an entire lap. Following the exciting racing, he would continue to run inside the top-10. By the time the next caution came out on lap 139, Larson continued to run in the 10th spot but was able to gain two positions on pit road. Slowly but surely, Larson began to make his way through the field after lap 139’s resumption of racing. Despite finishing the stage in seventh, Larson was running lap times close to that of the leading cars. As for the pit stop, Daniels chose not to make any adjustments on the car before the final stage of the race.
Stage three: Despite the hard racing, the beginning of stage three saw a slight break from the caution flags. Finally gaining some track position, Larson battled his teammate Byron inside the top-five for the better part of 10 laps. On lap 216, Larson took to pit road for his scheduled pit stop. After rejoining the track, Larson blended into the eighth spot after the field cycled through. Over the radio, Monn continued to inform his driver of the lanes that his competitors were taking. With five laps to go, Larson reported debris in turn four, but the race remained under the green flag. As the checkered flag flew, Larson crossed the line in the eighth position.
Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Stage one: Elliott’s day began from the 22nd starting position. After the green flag, Elliott slid backwards into the 26th spot, radioing his team that his race car was tight. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native sat in the 21st position when the competition caution flew on lap 25. Following pit stops and the choose, the drive of the No. 9 lined up in the 19th spot for the restart. Following the resumption of the race, he began to make his way up through the field. By the time the caution flew on lap 35, the 26-year-old driver had gained 5 spots and occupied the 14th position. After navigating his way through traffic on the ensuing restart, Elliott continued to run inside the top-15. As the run progressed, the balance of the race car faded with Elliott in the 16th position when the caution flew on lap 67. Under the yellow flag, Elliott brought the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 to the attention of his crew making several adjustments to the balance of the race car. After going back under the green flag, he marched his way to the front of the field, finishing stage one in the sixth position and the highest running driver from the Hendrick Motorsports quartet.
Stage two: When the race returned to green, Elliott remained in the sixth position, continuing to occupy the spot when the caution flag flew on lap 91. The following restart saw Elliott drop back into the ninth position, still occupying a spot inside the top-10. After another caution flag on lap 111, he gained several spots in the pits, positioning himself in the fourth position for the ensuing restart. The green flag only lasted for a quarter of a lap until an incident brought out another yellow flag with Elliott in the fifth position. Lap 120’s restart saw the driver of the No. 9 continue to run inside the top-five. Despite the caution flag coming back out on lap 139, Elliott radioed his crew saying, “This is the best I’ve been” offering an encouraging message to the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS team. On pit road, the No. 9 crew's service was fast enough to maintain his position on the racetrack, restarting in the fourth position. With the restart on lap 143, the race calmed down enough to finish stage two under the green flag. When the green checkered flag was thrown to end stage two, he crossed the line in the fifth position, earning much needed stage points after last weekend’s trying event at Darlington Raceway.
Stage three: Stage three saw the caution flags take a short break from the racing action, allowing the event to run green. For Elliott, he fell down the order during this period, but made his way back into the top-10 before green flag pit stops began. Lap 215 saw him hit pit road for scheduled maintenance with the rest of the field. After everyone cycled through, the Dawsonville, Georgia, native found himself in the 10th spot. Over the course of the run, crew chief Alan Gustafson could be heard communicating with his driver, coaching him through the plan for the last stretch to the finish. As the race came to a close, Elliott and the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 finished the race in the 11th position.